San Francisco

San Francisco Supes Suggest New Strategy to Combat City's ‘Diseased Streets'

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One thing that hasn’t changed during the coronavirus pandemic is San Francisco continues to struggle to clean up what many see as diseased streets.

Now a couple of supervisors have a new idea that would take the responsibility away from Public Works. 

The plan calls for a charter amendment that would make some dramatic changes including a new department focused solely on cleaning the city’s streets and sidewalks.

It’s easy to find neighbors who say something has to change, but  some wonder if this is the answer.

“There are some streets that could use some work,” said San Francisco resident Tyree Leslie. As he walks down the city streets, he sees an unhealthy dose of garbage and even human waste. 

He isn’t sure what the answer is but he knows the current system doesn’t work.

“We do have to think outside the box,” said Supervisor Matt Haney. 

He and his cosponsors rolled out a proposed ballot measure Thursday that would shift the cleaning responsibility from Public Works to a new department of streets and sanitation. 

The new agency could handle street cleaning and sanitation and other duties, while Public Works handles engineering and infrastructure.   

The idea predates a corruption scandal involving the Public Works director but Haney believes the idea could build new transparency.

“I have a few concerns in a COVID crisis that has left the city in dire straits we are looking at at a $1.7 million deficit,” Haney said.

Acting Director of Public Works Alaric Degrafinried says recently they’ve gotten more calls for service and is making changes. He is concerned a new department would just add more bureaucracy.  

“Without adding additional services like sweepers or additional people to do litter patrols, those additional costs would be admin costs of this new department,” said Degrafinried.

Supporters say this could be the big idea that finally fixes the long broken streets.

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